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EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was published in February 2011 and has not been updated since that time. 

A Helena school administrator and his young son died Monday morning in a head-on car crash on Highway 200 near Mosby.

David Strong, 45, of Helena and two of his sons were on their way home from a fishing trip traveling westbound near Mosby around 10 a.m. Two commercial semi trucks were traveling eastbound when a cloud of blowing snow caused by the first semi blinded the 81-year-old driver of the second truck, causing the 1993 Freightliner to collide head-on with the Strongs’ 1997 GMC Yukon in the westbound lane, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.

Trooper Steve Downs said Strong and his 9-year-old son Bridger Strong were pronounced dead at the scene. The other passenger, Strong’s 14-year-old son Kyle Strong, was air-lifted to a Great Falls hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He was released Tuesday morning with broken ribs and bruising, Downs said.

The semi-driver refused medical attention. All parties involved were wearing seatbelts.

Bridger was a fourth-grader at Jim Darcy Elementary. Grief counselors were on hand to help with students who were struggling with the news. Staff was also available to offer support at Capital High School, where Kyle is a freshman.

Bruce Messinger, Superintendent of Helena Schools, has a long history with David Strong, working closely with him for many years in Strong’s capacity at the Office of Public Instruction. About three years ago Strong accepted a position with the Helena School District overseeing Access to Success, a program to re-engage students who have dropped out.

Messinger said Strong made major contributions and provided excellent leadership to adult, career and technical education in the district.

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“He had a deep knowledge base,” Messinger said. “He was a strong advocate for lots of things, but clearly resonated with these adults that are a little disenfranchised.”

Even though he has a military background, Messinger said Strong had a gentle way with people.

“He was no less driven than you or I, but he did it in a non-threatening and persuasive way,” Messinger said.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or alana.listoe@helenair.com

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